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Parliament’s events champion backs Heathrow expansion

James Heappey MP says new runway at Heathrow "is the only show in town", while GTMC urges swift decision

Pictured: James Heappey, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events, says Heathrow should be expanded

James Heappey MP, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Events has thrown his weight behind airport expansion at London Heathrow.

Writing in the summer edition of the Business Visits and Events Partnership’s (BVEP) Connections magazine, Heappey said Heathrow was the only realistic option for additional airport capacity in the South East.

A decision on whether Gatwick or Heathrow would be expanded was delayed in the aftermath of David Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister immediately after the UK voted to leave the European Union. A decision has been pending since the Airports Commission recommended a new runway at Heathrow 12 months ago.

BVEP has said the ongoing delay is damaging for business and incoming events business specifically.

Heappey said: “Some will favour Gatwick or a new airport altogether. I think Heathrow is the only show in town and we should get on with it. The UK is losing ground to our European neighbours at exactly the time when we need to be racing out in front to mitigate the impacts of Brexit. If our strategy post-Brexit is to trade not just with Europe but increasingly with the world beyond, we need airports with the capacity to connect with those new markets.”

And the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC), the industry body for the travel management sector, has already written to the new transport secretary Chris Grayling to urge that a decision is made on airport capacity very swiftly. 

Paul Wait, GTMC chief executive, said: “Whilst the GTMC is extremely pleased to see a new Cabinet in place and the stability that this brings and it is vital that this Cabinet now approves the much-needed infrastructure required to enable UK businesses to connect and trade with the rest of the world. 

“Recent forecasting from Oxford Economics shows a direct link between business travel and economic prosperity. Not only does this research show that international business air travel returning to pre-2008 levels within the next five years will add as much as £6.5 billion to the value of UK trade, but that greater air connectivity has a vital role to play in enabling this. A one per cent increase in air connectivity has the potential to increase trade by 0.09 per cent, the equivalent to around £600 million. This level of growth is much-needed.

“Uncertainty over airport expansion in the South East has gone on for too long with previous deadlines routinely being missed. The new Government has a new department committed to International Trade which will be vital to grow our economy in the wake of Brexit. What we need now is for a similar commitment to provide the transport infrastructure to allow more international trade to take place. Increasing airport capacity in the South East is now imperative to ensure that Britain’s global future is realised.” 

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